Last week, Vogue announced that cleavage is no longer in style. Apparently, much like Apple Bottom jeans or boots with fur, female body parts are capable of being in- or out- of style.
Vogue writers attempted to empower women by encouraging fashions that are not overtly sexual and centered on cleavage, but fell flat by focusing the article on anatomy instead of style. In doing so, the writers echoed the same oppressive message that many women are tired of hearing: female bodies are meant to be seen, shamed, and changed, rather than lived in and enjoyed by their occupants.
I am a woman who has grappled with an eating disorder since my teen years. I was once active on pro-anorexia websites. Rejecting breasts and cleavage is nothing new- it has been the mantra of people who hate their bodies for as long as I can remember.
As a budding teenager, I despised every ounce of fat on my body, and my breasts were not immune to my scrutiny. I saw my rejection of fat mirrored in every piece of fashion media I could get my hands on, with willow-thin, flat models flaunting clothes that my body would surely bulge out of. After years of unlearning the ideas I subscribed to on pro-anorexia websites, I now have maintained a healthy and consistent weight for over a year and no longer suffer from disordered eating.
But I can still taste the shame that pro-ana websites made me feel when I read Pro-anorexia websites tell young women that there are myriad ways in which their bodies should be changed. If a girl still has their period, it is because they have too much body fat to suffer from amenorrhea. If a girl has large breasts, it really just reflects how much fat they still have. Girls are works in progress. Their bodies always have room for improvement.
With what I have learned on my journey to mental and physical health, I propose that women reject the standards imposed by the fashion industry and pro-anorexia websites. We need to value physical and mental health over appearance.